My name is Aneesa and I’m a mum of four children alhamdulillah. My husband and I have been quite focused when it comes to our children’s tarbiyyah because we share the vision that most parents have for their children: we want our children to have a strong Islamic foundation so they are equipped to face the challenges they will inevitably face as they grow up. We want them to have sound principles from the Qur’an and Sunnah which they can use to help them navigate through their daily lives. We wanted to use these tender years to nurture their spiritual development, to get a headstart with their Qur’an memorisation, to spend quality time with them having fun and making positive memories, before they become busy and preoccupied. Our children’s guidance is in the hands of Allah, but we want to be able to say that we tried our best.
Necessity is the mother of invention…
As a home educator, I came across many brilliant educational websites that contained engaging resources, which were comprehensive and everything was available in one place. There was nothing like this for Islamic education. I remember showing my husband one such website, one day, and that’s when the light bulb moment came.
Both my husband and I want Muslim parents to feel confident teaching their children Islam, regardless of their background. It’s time to stop outsourcing Islamic education. It’s time to stop outsourcing our children’s tarbiyyah. It’s our responsibility as parents. And it’s easy!
That’s what we want to show parents through Ilmburst. Ilmburst does the hard work for you. You just print off and use. You don’t have to have a degree in Islamic Studies, you don’t have to come from a particular background, or have a certain education, as a matter of fact, you don’t need much at all. Just a sincere desire to give your child a firm foundation and nurture in their hearts love for Allah (the Most High) and His religion.
A lifetime project is born
Putting Ilmburst together was an intense, but incredibly rewarding journey, alhamdulillah.
My husband did the bulk of the work, the meetings with the web developers, and the resources that required research and access to Arabic books. For three months, he worked day and night. I worked on creating resources that required a bit more creativity. Before launch, we spent a couple of nights awake, manually uploading 2000 resources onto the server.
It was a really exciting time. We were both buzzing! The brainstorming parts were mind blowing as we listed the topics that we wanted to cover, and how we wanted to make it engaging and fun for kids, from things like cut out jigsaws, dot to dots, colouring pages, sensory mats, worksheets on different topics, timelines, and play mats for pre-schoolers on different topics. For older children, we wanted resources with more depth and structure, so there are no gaps. We had so many ideas, and one by one, we will work through them in sha Allah.
We realised it was a lifetime project. We want to keep adding to the bank of resources in sha Allah, until we have comprehensively covered everything a child needs to know about their religion. It’s all about building that foundation!
A culture of learning
At the moment we are going through Imam an Nawawi’s 40 Hadith using the packs from Ilmburst. My ten year old takes the responsibility for reading the text in Arabic, my 7 year old reads the translation, and my five year old reads out the keywords with some assistance. My husband then goes through the key lessons from the Hadith.
When explaining the lessons, we use examples of things our children can relate to or have experienced before. We then do the activity together or we sometimes do family role plays where the girls can put into practice what they’ve learned. It also shows us how much they’ve absorbed and understood. We then end with a family game of – wait for it – Blind Man’s Bluff! The whole ‘lesson’ is so simple, and requires minimal effort, but our children ask for it every week and are disappointed if we have to miss it.
All the information is there, the translation of the hadith is there; the key lessons and principles are all laid out. You can even omit the Arabic, if it’s something you’re not confident with. And everyone is capable of having a bit of fun with their children. Choose a game that you and your family enjoy. Make this whole experience part of your family culture. Your children will remember it with great fondness when they are older, and in sha Allah, it will be something they will want to do with their children.
Sr. Aneesa’s Words of Advice
Small but regular – You don’t have to do massive projects, keep it simple. Building a foundation requires consistency. The best deeds that are the most beloved to Allah are the ones that are small and regular.
Weave Islam into their lives – You can’t compartmentalise Islamic Studies as a subject and leave it. Sure, there is ‘theory’ to be learned, but Islam is a religion to be lived. So when things happen in your family life, take a few minutes out to talk to your children, and live the theory. When we experience blessings in our lives, we teach our children the importance of thanking Allah. When we experience hardships, we teach them about patience. When we need to make a big decision as individuals or a family, we teach them to make du’a to Allah and ask for guidance. In this way, not only do we teach them important life lessons and skills but we tie in to their relationship with Allah. In sha Allah, long after we pass from this world, they will remain strong because of their faith and will then pass this onto their children.
Learn and grow together – Study together as a family; what better way is there to bond with your family and come closer to Allah! It may also be a little less overwhelming if you do it together. It’s not necessarily about us being ‘teachers’ and our children being ‘students’. We are all students when it comes to knowledge, and even if your level of Islamic knowledge is quite advanced, who doesn’t benefit from a reminder?
May Allah (the Most High) bless us all and enable us to nurture our children in the best way possible, make our children the coolness of our eyes and make us leaders amongst the pious.
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